A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, July 26, 2010

UAE Says Blackberry Encryption Violates Law

The UAE has become the latest Gulf state to wrestle with the Blackberry's proprietary encryption system which cannot be read by governments. It's getting picked up by a lot of media, but some of the headlines are a little misleading, I think. The National has the story here. A BBC version here.

The Saudis and Kuwaitis have wrestled with this issue, too. And as one of the articles notes, Indian intelligence has expressed frustration at its inability to break Blackberry encryption, since the terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008 used Blackberries. The encryption has never been broken, and data apparently passes through Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian firm behind Blackberry. The UAE is saying that only Blackberry stores its data offshore, beyond the reach of UAE law.

It's easy to see this as a censorship issue, but mobile telephones are generally fairly easy for governments to snoop on. (I have an Android phone, so I assume Big Brother Google can learn anything it wants about me. But then, they already have pictures of my house.) Blackberry seems to be the exception.

1 comment:

John said...

Governments (especially police) will always want to know everything about everybody. This does not make it right.

Saying that I cannot email someone unless the police can read it is like saying that I cannot talk to someone at a cafe unless I record the conversation and let them listen to it. It is crazy! Of course, police can do their investigations but that doesn't mean they have the right to know everything I write to everyone.

Thank God that there are products like TrulyMail, PGP, Blackberry, and the like which allow us to encrypt our messages to keep prying eyes out of it.

You want to read my email? Get a warrant and search my house.